Blue-Over

In keeping with my plan to tax my arm less, I only worked on a few photos today from my latest shoot. Since a lot of my work was focused on fixing some color errors in the photos I posted yesterday, I only have one new one to share today. But first – I went to lunch with a friend today (hi Mel!) and we stopped in at, of course, the one other Free People store that’s in the city. It was a really tiny little shop, but they had this one pair of shoes on display that for some inexplicable reason I thought were amazing – I say inexplicable because this is in no way a shoe I would typically wear. I say one pair because it was literally the ONLY pair in the entire store, and it just happened to be in my size. So here they are – they’re so ugly they’re rather awesome (I have a feeling a LOT of you are going to disagree with me on the awesome part though):

Photo Jun 29, 2 03 08 PM

Anyway, once the shoes were purchased and food was consumed, I got to work fixing the overly yellow tone to the photos I posted yesterday. What can I say, I got too involved in using the RadLab plugins and lost my head. After I posted here around midnight Sunday morning, I went straight to Flickr for my one upload of the day, and as soon as the photo hit my stream I realized I looked like some Victorian Oompah-Loompah – it was just way too much with the gold tones. So, I took that shot down and uploaded one that I felt wasn’t overdone, although it’s still a little yellow. Anyway, fixing this was a bit of a bitch, but on the plus side I did take some time to watch YouTube tutorials and learn how to correct white balance in Photoshop, something I did not know how to do previously. Still took some time with these shots, but I managed as best I could. Here’s the first one I fixed, original first and then the new edit:

victorian3_RadLab_DP

This was the one I first shared on Flickr then took down when I got a look at it lined up against other portraits on my stream. I had to see it in that context to realize how much I looked like an antique Cheeto here. After playing with white balance and some cool filters in Photoshop, here’s the updated version (I changed the texture on this one too, as the one I used above was also very golden):

victorian3_Snapseed_levels_DP

Soooooo much better, yes? The texture is really light here; I was torn about using any at all but I did want the vintage element it could add. I was unsure because I think the lighting on my face here is so nice, and I didn’t want the texture to muck it up. I ended up erasing most of it off my face, just leaving a little light mark here and there for consistency with the rest of the photo. You can mostly see the texture in the mirror and in the lower left-hand corner. It might actually be useless, but what can I say, I was nervous about going overboard with the filters again so I went really easy on them this time.

Here’s the other photo I shared yesterday that I also felt was too yellow, followed by the edit:

victorian2_final

victorian2_final2

It may have been because of the fairly weird lighting here, but I couldn’t use PS’s white balance tool to decent effect, and had to add a lot of blue filters in RadLab to cool the warmth down instead (hence my title, get it?). The lighting is so flash-y because I leaned forward pretty far in this shot, without thinking about how close it was getting me to the camera’s flash; even though I had it bounced off the ceiling my face got too close and blasted out a little by the light. I kind of like the effect that can have on occasion, and I think it works OK here, but it sure  made the shot a bear to edit properly, at least for me. I used the same texture on the edited shot this time, because I think the lightness of it worked well with the brightness of the shot and unified the lighting, in a way. I also added some shadows to my face, especially the eyes, so that it didn’t look as flat as it did in the first version.

Part of the reason I only had time to do one new one today is because this one was also a bear to pull off and took a load of time. I liked my face in this one shot, but as you can see, there was a framed picture hanging on the wall opposite the piano that was showing in the mirror, and the placement of the vase that rests on top of it was weird. So even though I liked my expression as I felt it was a little austere and unusual (which was in keeping with what I was doing in the shoot), it wasn’t going to work unless I got creative.

victorian6

Great expression, terrible background. However, I took a second shot like this after I took that picture off the wall and moved the vase, so my very next shot was much better. Except that I didn’t like my expression as much. There was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t as interesting.

victorian5

So hey, I thought, I know a thing or two about a thing or two, maybe I could take my head from photo one and create a composite with photo two to get the right face into the shot with the right background. This is where YouTube came in handy again, because one thing that’s eternally tricky about composite shots is that each shot you take will have a slightly different color balance, and if you are going to take your head off one shot and try to paste it onto another body, your skin tones damn well better match exactly or it’s going to look weird. Which rarely happens right out of the camera, and often causes problems for me. In truth I have to abandon a lot of composite shots because I can’t get the colors to match perfectly, and where I’ve layered one shot over another even the slightest color imbalance will show and screw it up. But when watching the tutorial about adjusting color balance, the video went on to show how you can take the color balancing you just did to one photo, save it as a color profile, then open up another photo from the same shoot and apply that same color profile to it for a pretty close match, if not an exact one. I knew this was possible, but had never bothered to learn it before – it worked well here, and although it did not provide a total match, it got me close enough. So here’s the final composite shot, with the face of shot one and the rest from shot two, as well as some blue filters to cool it down a bit and a little texture added:

victorian5-6_final

I think the shot’s a little crooked, actually, so I may go in and fix that, but other than that I quite like this one. And by the way, I never noticed before that I have Stephen Colbert ears (one sticking out far more than the other). Ah well. I don’t know how many more of these I can edit since this is pretty much the gist of the shoot at this point – me looking austere sitting in a chair or in front of a piano. There’s only so far I can go with that…but I like what’s come out of it so far, and the things I’ve learned while working with these. I certainly got more mileage out of this shoot than I thought I would.

13 thoughts on “Blue-Over

  1. OK, so, let’s see, in order, mas o menos, I LOVE those shoes — they look so comfortable; as an aside, cool vase; got it about working on the color and white balance; totally got the title immediately; think the composite works well; agree you look like a governess, ala Dale’s comment; you put a lot of time into each shot which I think is good for portraits. That backdrop can work for so many ideas. Great job!

    • I was wondering if I was crazy or not, something about them really called to me but I never wear shoes like this. Maybe that’s why I liked them. They are super comfortable also, of course. as far as the photos the wallpaper/backdrop may be part of what threw me here and made processing a little perilous, so much more going on in the background than what I”m used to.

      • I think one needs to have all kinds of shoes for every occasion, lots and lots. There is a place for brown, loafer-like, richly grained, slip ons. Those are an ideal type of that category.

        I wonder if a totally dark, dark brown outfit or dark navy would work with that background?

      • I had a navy dress I was going to wear, but it wasn’t the right look, plus it was patterned and I think for that backdrop patterns are best avoided. It was a very small pattern, though, so it might have worked. I really need to get on ordering a backdrop stand so I can switch out the black on in my office. Painting is still a ways off (hopefully getting carpet installed tomorrow) and I know that with all the stuff I’ve moved out of this room a stand will now work.

      • Not loafers, moccasins, that’s what I meant.

        I realize now that the piano is black, so probably blue and brown wouldn’t work. I was thinking that they might be softer and more Victorian but maybe not.

  2. I like pic #3 the best. One good rule of thumb for portrait photos: eliminate lines that run into the head, either by using bokeh or flat surfaces, or things that are so out of focus that you can’t tell what they are.

    • By lines that run into the head – do you mean the mirror that’s behind me? And what do you mean by flat surfaces? Not being facetious, just not following you there.

      • Yes, the mirror that’s behind you. Flat surfaces? Um, sorry, I should have said, solid colors, or the even/ uniform floral wallpaper which presents a gentle pattern which does not detract from your head shots. Sorry for not being clearer. As a writer I shouldn’t be so sloppy! 🙂

        • No worries! I’ve gotten several comments about the mirror behind me in these shots, so yeah it definitely caused a distraction which I just didn’t think about it initially. Someone suggesting standing in front of so it could be a frame for my face – which would eliminate the harsh lines of the frame running into my head. Since I normally use a plain backdrop in my shots, there was a lot I didn’t think about here!

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